TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE
The unbroken development of Chinese civilisation through the ages has allowed for the gradual accumulation of the knowledge and experience of many generations of physicians. This gives Chinese Medicine a unique theoretical basis and the benefit of millennia of empirical wisdom.
Chinese Medicine has traditionally incorporated the use of acupuncture, moxibustion, herbal medicine, massage therapies, food remedies and Qi Gong exercises.
ACUPUNCTURE AND MOXIBUSTION
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles at particular points on the body. These points are linked by pathways known as ‘meridians’ or ‘channels’. Insertion and gentle manipulation of the needles affects the subtle energy or ‘life-force’ of the body, known as ‘Qi’, which flows, via the meridian system, throughout the body and to all of the internal organs.
Through skilful selection, combination and stimulation of points and channels, based on traditional methods of assessment, the Acupuncturist’s aim is to facilitate and restore harmonious function in body, mind and spirit.
In some instances, to enhance the effect, I use a ‘moxa stick’ comprised mainly of the herb, Ai Ye (Artemisia, or mugwort), the end of which is ignited. The heating glow it produces is moved back and forth over the body area being treated. This gently warms and further stimulates the flow of Qi and blood. Moxa can also be used in a variety of other ways, with or without needles. These techniques are collectively referred to as ‘moxibustion’.
CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINE
Though less well known in the West than acupuncture, China’s traditional herbal medicine has an equally long history. Following the same painstaking process of assessment and differentiation used in acupuncture, the Herbalist prescribes a carefully-balanced combination of ingredients, designed to address the particulars of each case, and tailored to the specific needs and condition of the individual client.
Chinese herbs can be administered in several ways. I use mainly ‘raw’ or ‘loose’ herbs, as opposed to powders or pills, and these are usually cooked in water (or ‘decocted’). This herbal drink is then taken 2-3 times per day.
Clear, printed instructions are given on how to prepare and take the herbal medicine. Chinese Herbal Medicine utilises vegetable, animal and mineral substances (with about 90% of the Materia Medica being plant-derived).
It has always been my policy not to prescribe, nor to use in my practice, any products which are derived from endangered animal or plant species, as defined by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). In 2008, I was among the first group of herbal practitioners in Australia to be officially certified by DEWHA as being ‘Wildlife Aware’, under the Australian Government’s Endangered Species Certification Scheme.
The origins of Shiatsu lie in Japanese traditional medicine. Shiatsu can be described as a Japanese form of bodywork derived from the same ancient principles as acupuncture. Touch is the essence of Shiatsu, and the medium of touch can be restorative, invigorating, soothing and calming.
Like acupuncture, Shiatsu works with the Qi (Ki, in Japanese), through the same meridians and points. However, instead of needles, the Shiatsu practitioner uses a combination of massage, pressure, stretching, mobilisation and other bodywork techniques to affect the flow of Qi and blood.
As well as working at the more subtle level of Qi, Shiatsu is a comprehensive and integrated system of physical therapy, working with the muscles, joints and connective tissues.
Traditionally, Shiatsu is carried out on a futon mattress on the floor, using a variety of treatment positions (lying face up, face down, on your side or sitting). However, because I very frequently combine Shiatsu/bodywork and acupuncture, I work on a treatment table.
No oils are used for Shiatsu, and you remain clothed throughout. It is best to wear comfortable, non-restrictive clothing (loose-fitting cotton pants and a T-shirt, or something similar, are ideal).